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That's it. From not knowing what this is to having a baby blog littered with sleep updates.

Stuff I didn't get to:

  • A riff on the phrase, "as useless as a chocolate fireguard" and how much Piglet would love one.
  • Two flavours of leaving Piglet's room: Creeping and praying the floorboard doesn't squeak versus hiring a brass band to play you out successfully.
  • A smattering of home lingo e.g. Question marked to mean asleep.
  • Black Lives Matter. And how I (middle-aged, middle-class, white man) hope to show up meaningfully kind.
  • Part 4 of things Piglet loves.

And more. Stay safe.

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100 words is drawing to a close just as lockdown has run my life and brain into the imaginative ground. A selection of dreams from the last week include:

  • Lying in bed reading my phone. (That was only a doze. I got to wake up feeling unrefreshed and distressed)
  • Talking to our greengrocer about his holiday in Beadnell
  • Playing the next level of a mobile game
  • Fancy dress drinking with the Bay folx. I was dressed as a vampire and trying to sort parking. Was told to pay on departure. "Keep your stake in your pocket."

My brain done broke.

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Another Friday self-isolating. This time nursery called to say Piglet had a temperature.

Too late to get a referral through occ health, we trundled across the A1 to a drive-through testing centre at the edge of nowhere.

The centre, set up for high traffic, was quiet on a Saturday morning, which made it confusingly convoluted. The staff looked to be lads who would've worked hospitality security if it wasn't all closed. Our man who gave us the kit spent most of the time imploring us not to go so hard as to hospitalise Piglet.

She wasn't impressed with the experience.

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I needn't have worried about a Thursday finish. Work and baby interfered too much for that.

Piglet has slept through for the last few nights, but hasn't yet figured out how to couple it with an early bedtime. She pulled off her first full day at Lǎolao and Lǎoyé's yesterday, while I hid in the spare room working.

In terms of a review, they get points for on demand table service throughout the day, but lose marks for lunch being a cheese sandwich, rather than rib soup.

"The rib soup is for Piglet"

Chastised, I slunk back to my cubicle.

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A second night-shift to let The Chef recuperate and Piglet wasn't keen. We trialled looking at every change in the clock's big hand.

At 5.30am we got up for the day, before a happy Chef relieved me to go for a long nap. Up at 11 to cook hash browns. Third time for this recipe too, so they were edible this time. We used our spice kit on some takeaway quality curry.


I've just realised that, barring missed days, these will end on Thursday. A nothingburger of a day to finish on. I'll have to plan something for the weekend.

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The Chef kept coughing yesterday and was sent home—via occupational health—for a Covid test. Fortunately we'd already booked takeout pizza to eat at home with sufficient beer and wine to see us through.

We got the confirmation this morning that she's just got a traditional coronavirus, rather than the 2019 fun and games. It meant I could do a run around the shops before joining the girls in the park for sunshine and ice cream. We should really take it as a warning to make sure we've got a couple of weeks self-isolation supply, but, well, we haven't.

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Throughout lockdown I've been sporadically maintaining my zombie base by running to and from outdoor chores. Yesterday, I came across GoodGym in an Ouseburn Valley update.

Their premise is meet up with folx, run somewhere while doing something for the community, then run home. It's on the verge of too wholesome, but intriguing nevertheless. I could even have a supply run open in the background to tart my base up. It'd be a treble endorphin hit.


This might be one of those times when blogging about something is useful. I've signed up for an account and there's even upcoming events.

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The Chef is sharing Piglet's cold. With them both sniffly I attempted more of the night-shift, only to be thwarted by my inability to get back to sleep.

Which is the excuse I'm using for today's work failures. A day where all I ended up doing was finding out a hundred ways to not fix my problem. Not in that platitudinous business writing way, where you get the right answer and a story. Just a hundred failed attempts.

I'm hopeful of a night's sleep and it being trivial to fix tomorrow.

On a brighter note, the Infamous Machine is fun.

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We can tell our lockdown is ending because Piglet—who went 3 months without so much as a sneeze—is onto her third nursery-induced cold.

It started on Friday. We thought it was simple misunderstanding at nursery. She hasn't heard of Yelp, so couldn't leave a one-star review of the food. Instead she decorated a nurse with lunch. And breakfast. And snacks.

Like I say, one star.

But then she pulled out a repeat for The Chef last night after her favourite cheesy pie meal.

Combine with the incipient molars and we've not slept a great deal for the last few days.

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I've lost my hairy corona crown. Well, not lost. Parted with. Barbered. Six inch mop down to the regular 1.5 inches of a short back and sides. Sadly, not enough to move the bathroom scales. I can no longer pretend I've not gained any lockdown weight and it was all the barnet.

Trimming the beard led to the frightening discovery of more chins than when I started growing it.

Piglet took the loss well. A few dubious seconds, a raised eyebrow, holding The Chef tight. Then all was forgiven and forgotten and we went for a walk along the street.

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Things that entertain Piglet, part three:

  • Bread. In fact, all carbs
  • Getting her feet eaten
  • Spinning around. Bonus points for raises and dips in there too
  • That godforsaken out of tune bus with the dying batteries
  • Boop on the nose
  • The sea. So much love for the sea
  • Noodles and other noodle-shaped food
  • Other people's business. Seriously, she's the nosiest person I know
  • The baby sign for giraffe
  • "Wow!" said the owl
  • Banging her drum while in the backseat of the car
  • Boobs, hehe
  • The Hey Dugge theme song
  • Her interpretation of croquet with a tiny hammer and balls set

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Just killed the first bedroom mosquito of the summer. On a night where it's too hot to shut the windows. And having spent the preceding days confined to the attic office during babysitting.

While the grandads want help with the pram and wait for Piglet to relax, both grandmas have let it be known that I'm to remain out of sight, lest she become clingy and prefer me. I text before lunch and snacks so they can go play in the garden.

And it's working. Piglet is over her initial shock and plays happily all day. Hoping for nursery next.

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I'm sat in just a pair of shorts at 9pm, waiting for the promised thunderstorms.

The Chef is putting some entries in Piglet's memories book and has come across her baby hand and feet prints. She cracked with poignant sadness for the person her child no longer is. Cheered up when she remembered the first nappy change.

We've a week off in September for The Chef's birthday and we're spending the evening trying to find accommodation. We mistakingly thought that once the schools were back, it'd quiet down. We've already lost a few places we'd bookmarked. Pray for our holiday.

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Dan Catt is a few years ahead of the Silicon Valley engineers who are adding new features as they age into them. He got family sharing on Spotify too late and is hoping for a "flying the nest" feature to transfer all his daughter's YA novels to her kindle and off his.

The upshot for us is that Piglet is 10 years behind those self-same engineers, so we're going to have all the features we need to manage her digital life.

Now, we just need them to remember that they've got parents and I can get the grandparents sorted too.

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We woke feeling lethargic. We'd already organised a coastal trip with grandparents, but the weather Britished us; having a beach plan created clouds.

We set off, reluctantly, to their garden instead. The sun arrived, but by then we were committed to lazily watching everyone play and I dozed off amongst the toys.

Refreshed, we decided to make it a grandparent doubler and headed up to see Lǎolao and Lǎoyé. They got so excited that they cooked Piglet tea and took her to play while we lounged on the couch.

A lazier day than we'd manage at home. Thanks for grandparents.

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It was on this day 5 years ago when I was lucky enough to marry the person who has become known on here as The Chef.

We celebrated today on Bamburgh beach with a Running Fox afternoon tea, champagne and a Piglet eating sand.

It was on this day 10 years ago when, wandering round the flamingo enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo for some foresaken work team building reason that I can't remember, I overheard the immortal exchange,

"What's that Daddy?" "Well, it's just a big pink chicken"

You need to say it in proper Scottish to get the full effect.

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The weather is warm and the sky clear. Piglet is sleeping. Me and The Chef ate outside with a bottle of red. There was a stillness to everything and we stayed in the garden to finish the wine. And the stars started to come out.

We got to see NEOWISE before it got too dim. Saturn and Jupiter, together in the south, close enough and bright enough to photograph with mobiles. The Chef caught a shooting star from the Perseids.

It took me back 5 years to Bamburgh cricket pitch watching the same shower on the night before our wedding.

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Back to back days with grandparents looking after Piglet have gone well. She's still a whingy, whingy fusspot when I'm in the room, but I'm able to leave her with them and she looks to be having fun. Eskimo kisses for everyone at the end of the day. Here's hoping it rubs off on nursery tomorrow.

The upshot of the disruption is that she's taking hours to put down in the evening. And refuses to be put down overnight. There's a high chance that, without improvement, only two from me, Piglet and The Chef will be alive in a fortnight.

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Having mini-dutchies for breakfast, The Chef asked, "What's the difference between jam and conserve?" I snarkily offered price as the answer. It turns out it's whether you cut the fruit.

Piglet has started using her walker. She's no directional control but yells enthusiastically on the straight, until the crash. Where she yells enthusiastically at what she's crashed into.

Her enthusiasm is infectious. I needed to get new car tires and the garage is 3 miles away. I dropped it off before work and ran home. Yelling. This, surprisingly, didn't break me, so I ran back after lunch to collect it.

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I don't know that I love anything as much as Piglet loves the beach. We took her again this morning and she was straining against the sling as soon as the sea was in sight. She's shown no more signs of walking, beyond those few steps last week, but once she was in her swimming costume and released she set off crawling and roaring towards the sea. Could have overtaken a greyhound on the way.

She sat in the surf screaming with delight, crawling backwards and eating sand between waves until her lips turned blue and we turned for home.

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The Chef's first Friday in 13 months meant takeaway for tea, washed down with rosé in the sunshine.

I went full Dad Mode for my last day of mini-Paternity. Cut both lawns, hung out laundry and remembered owning a guineas pig, so gave her a trim and clean too.

The Chef was buddy-less for lunch and Piglet's nursery is in the building next door to her. I collected them for a picnic lunch in the park opposite. Piglet smashed her first Greggs pasty.

Short nap and Piglet was thrown in the paddling pool to keep my feet company.

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This week, weeknotes would be a better format for saying "Piglet's improving at nursery." Daily repetition is draining my well of synonyms and interest.

She's up to a half day though, so I'm able to start on DIY. First up, we've mushrooms growing from the kitchen ceiling. Taking the bath panel off left me looking at a pipe connected to the plughole at one end and then nothing?!?


Something must have come loose in the last month or we'd surely have a downstairs bath by now.

Fix it tomorrow and I'll be able to have a bath at the weekend.

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Piglet made it through nursery today without vomiting on herself in distress! Which is progress of sorts.

Her key worker said she'd sat in a buggy, in between bouts of tears, quietly watching the other kids play. Which is bona fide progress. Who knows? In a few weeks she might enjoy herself.

But the reason you're reading this is for updates on my sleep. Piglet had me 10 minutes on, 60 minutes off all of last night. Lǎolao and Lǎoyé were babysitting this afternoon and I got to have a nice hour-an-a-bit nap while everyone ate well and played happily.

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We were over to the coast for a BBQ for my sister's birthday. Piglet was clearly still a bit shaken and clingy following nursery yesterday. She improved over the course of the afternoon and volunteered herself for some Lăolao cuddles.

She outdid herself by cracking out her first steps! A tentative two or three at a time when walking between me and The Chef.

Within a week she's done first word, nursery and first steps. As Lenin put it:

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.

Now if we can get her to sleep...

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We did not get fewer fireworks. As we drove away from nursery we could hear Piglet crying. Rather than stew at home, we tried to get on with groceries. Turning up at the off-license before it opened left us feeling alcoholic. We called from the car park to hear Piglet crying in the background while a harried nurse suggested we come get her.

They've booked us in for more taster sessions next week. It prompted a debate about whether we should be using nursery at all.

Parenting looks to be a long line of feeling like you've irreparably screwed up.

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Today was Piglet's introduction to nursery. Having screamed her lungs out at Lăoyé yesterday, she took the chance to practice on the nursery staff today.

In her defence, it was bang in the middle of when she'd usually be napping. We're hoping for fewer fireworks tomorrow.

It's only one adult at a time during The Situation, so I whizzed round the shops and fetched takeout from a restaurant we've not been to since pre-maternity leave.

It's all getting very real. We've only a few days left till The Chef is back and we're on to the newest stage with Piglet.

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Lăoyé's trial babysitting session could depressingly accurately described as troubled.

He joined The Chef in waking Piglet and she reacted to the imposition by emptying her lungs at full volume. She remained skittish and highly-strung throughout lunch.

Checking on them post-lunch, Piglet was under the couch retrieving a ball while Lăoyé raised a massive grin and two thumbs up. I left them to it.

In settling her for her nap, she reacted to hearing bye-bye by waving and saying "buh-bye". The Chef confirmed she did it yesterday. We're calling it. Piglet's first word was neither mama or dada, but bye-bye.

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Having resisted the urge to let Piglet cry without consolation to get revenge on our noisy neighbours, we packed up over the course of a leisurely morning, while boerwors sizzled in the pan, temporally flanked by cups of tea.

We headed back up to the reservoir for a last walk before heading home. And started it off with our first family car park picnic.

The walk was a bit more forested than yesterday's and we spotted a couple of roe deer feeding in a field on our way to the Wave Chamber

Celebrated in the evening with a long shower.

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Mosquito is Spanish for pest: flies and humans. The campsite filled with people who'd never seen tents, but had definitely packed booze. The lads that looked bothersome were actually sweet and turned their music down. Our 4am neighbours however...

Don't camp until flights to Spain are back.

Cafes weren't open, so we stopped for pie and mash at the campsite. Piglet melted an old, tanned biker's heart. He stalled and sat waving to her, childlike.

Our short walk turned into a six mile jaunt along the north shore. Wild cherries either side of the half-way mark perked us up.

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We'd finished our BBQ at the "wild and rustic" roadside field and were settling for the night, when the family a few pitches over returned to start theirs. As one of the kids congratulated Dad on the BBQ quality we were treated to:

Don't congratulate me. There's only one man worth admiration.

Jesus? Shearer? Boris?

Steve. Steve's the man.

Who's Steve?

He's got one of those kebab things. We had shaved meat and shaved rotational chicken in minus two degrees. Steve's the man.

All that was left was for his family—and me—to agree, Steve's the man.

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In fantasy house development, I want to replace one of our bedroom windows with French doors and a balcony. For nine months of the year, it'd be too cold to use and would probably collect some kind of leaf litter that needed cleaning and let in too much of a draft.

But on nights like this, with the sun playing off the few clouds, a gentle breeze and the swifts coursing it'd be worth any hassle.

Luckily we've an attic bedroom with big velux windows. And I've brought our gin, tonic and beer to bed, so we're almost there.


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No update yesterday; Northumberland has many merits, but WiFi isn't amongst them.

Piglet's first camping trip was a qualified success.

We spent more time packing and travelling than we did camping. The car was fuller than our two week France trips. Life with a baby.

We've lost our camping stove, so we loaned one, which I couldn't get to work.

Our airbed has a slow puncture and by 2am we were on the ground. At 4am Piglet had a 10 minute wail. We ended up cosleeping, but I didn't get kicked out of bed.

We're booked in again on Sunday!

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To mark the end of maternity leave, we're introducing Piglet to camping.

We're being sensible/cowardly and camping for one night only, 30 minutes drive from home. It's got the twin benefits of being a beautiful part of the country and it's a short panic drive for bailing on disaster.

The campsite has a no noise after 10.30pm policy. She's slept well for the last few nights, so fingers crossed for the same in a tent. For everyone's sake.

I'll pack an extra sleeping bag in case I get kicked off the airbed for the girls to co-sleep though.

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I've spent the day doing something akin to continuous professional development.¹

I'm making an internal website to put strings into a database and get them out again. The only requirements are that putting in has to look pretty and getting out has to use specific permissions.

Originally, I'd intended to learn PowerApps, but SQL connections are a premium feature – I know, right? – and we don't pay for them. I'm trying Django instead. Overkill for this project, but it looks useful elsewhere and it's worth learning on an easy project.

1: Insert your job's terrible name for this here.

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Missed a couple of days through illness. Piglet took to inconsolable evening crying till midnight. She refused to be picked up or put down, which was a conundrum.

By the time we escaped the nursery we were a combination of frazzled and knackered (knazzled? frackered?). Any updates would have been 100 words of "Why won't she sleep?"

Much improved last night. She let us eat pork, drink wine and chat like adults. She even slept till 8.30am. Fish and chips on the beach was her reward. A one year old isn't supposed to eat that, but what you gonna do?

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Simon Collision linked to Simon Armitage's new LYR album. I was in a spoken-word-set-to music mood this morning and was held up while listening by him reciting sing a rainbow — a song that's been on background loop with Piglet. We're partial to the Peggy Lee version.

I first came across Armitage back in 2008, when I read The Green Knight in a single sitting with a sick Chef napping on me. Our early days, cross-country commuting, where a grey and ill Manchester day still had to be spent together.

I enjoyed the album. And the date.

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Doing 100 words each day with a boddler confined to the house is not always easy.

Yesterday marked a week since her vaccinations and the pseudo-measles kicked in. She got to try out a proper sick day. Favourite TV on the couch while cuddling her toys; napping in the sling while The Chef puttered; 4 hour nap instead of 2. She cried all through my evening Mandarin class, so once done I tagged in for my stint.

We reversed roles today and I'm writing this while Piglet does her best pneumatic piston impression, extracting her soothing milk before sleep.

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Tonight Piglet got the story of Rebekah, her Filipino Scuba diving bath mirror.


She left the Philippines in '83 because she didn't fit with the Marcos regime and chose the UK for our female Prime Minister and cold seas.

Found Thatcher cold too. But stayed for Leah. They joked about being patriarchs' wives and Rebekah would tease Leah for being a nurse "married" to a Filipino.

They were among the first to have a Civil Service in 2004. When the law changed to allow marriage they had no ceremony because, in their eyes, they'd already been married for a decade.

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Piglet's Grandad gets to stop shift work at a sprightly 60.

He's been after quitting the shop floor for years. He even attempted to join QA and use their computers. I'm not saying he and computers don't get on, but, well, I am.

He tried for a forklift job when the existing driver was fired for throwing a chair at someone, but he sued for unfair dismissal, which takes some chutzpah.

When it looked like it fell through he applied for redundancy, shocking the bosses into acceptance.

4.5 day weeks on a forklift with sensible Piglet time. A happy Grandad!

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As lockdown powers through its fifteenth week, the pubs and restaurants have been thrown to the wolves and told to open their doors rather than furlough. I've been thinking about how much you'd have to pay me to go to a pub on "Super Saturday". Free beer plus a wodge of cash to take home.

I'd used a Covid dataset for my training session and it highlighted just how badly the UK have handled this:

sombrero.jpg New Statesman

Much more pleasant is sitting on the couch with a Scream for Pizza, a nice Albariño and The Chef torturing the neck massager.

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The Chef Spoonered her idioms today. Which meant I learned two new phrases.

开门七件事 (kāimén qī jiàn shì) which transliterates into English as the seven necessities. Namely:

  1. 柴 (chái): Firewood
  2. 米 (mĭ): Rice
  3. 油 (yóu): Oil
  4. 盐 (yán): Salt
  5. 醬 (jiàng): Sauce
  6. 醋 (cù): Vinegar
  7. 茶 (chá): Tea

Swap the vinegar for coffee and I'm ready to start any day, Covid or no.

鱼米之乡 (yúmǐ zhī xiāng) which transliterates as the land of milk and honey. A reference to the fish and rice in the richer South.

I'm adding my own idiom: 北方更好 (běifāng gèng hǎo).

It's better up North.

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Forgot that I'm giving a site training tomorrow. Spent the evening writing a lesson plan and creating datasets. This must be how teachers feel all the time.

I've just enough time in the morning to rehearse it once and pray there's no overlooked fatal flaws.

Grandparents visited a slightly whingey Piglet this morning. She had her vaccinations yesterday and she's inherited the family cowardice, which has led to some impressive welts from her struggles to escape the nurse. Grandad is still waiting to hear if he's got his new night-shift-less job.

I've not gotten out of pyjamas today.

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The neighbours out back stand and call their cat in every night by shouting "Molly!" repeatedly. Don't they know they should just stand there stage whispering "pspspspsps"?

Our noisy neighbour — the one who thinks 9 pm is reasonable for using power tools and has confined his kids to the house for the full lockdown — has taken to going round between 9 and 10 pm and slamming all his doors for some unknown reason.

Two doors up have a toddler and a baby. The toddler excitedly keeps the baby awake. The baby does not enjoy this.

It's a wonder Piglet sleeps.

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For forgotten reasons, Piglet's teeth brushing song is America from West Side Story. The upbeat rhythym leads to cleaner gums. Probably. I keep getting the lyrics wrong though, which frustrates The Chef immensely. PTSD from an unretentive singer in her musical theatre youth.

The new procedure is that she sings the line "For a small fee in America!" If she's not there, me and Piglet just leave a pause.

To cheer things up at bedtime, we've added Love Letter by Nick Cave to the roster.

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Watched my first Hey Dugge today. Thoroughly excellent kids TV. With this, The Baby Club and The Clangers, Piglet has started grunting in audible delight at the iPlayer logo.

This week, she's been delightedly grunting a lot. Dogs are her favourite.

Hey Dugge was clearly written by parents who've watched too much kids TV. They've dropped in knowing winks throughout for our entertainment. After an episode, I like the fact that Happy the crocodile has a clearly adoptive parent and I can't decide if it's more BBC to make an episode referencing this or to let it run unsaid forever.

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Having been woken up for the whateverth time at small number o'clock, I lowered the monitor volume to avoid waking The Chef. I dozed off watching Piglet rattling the bars and when I woke, she'd fallen asleep. I remember thinking, "I hope she hasn't hit her head and died," before rolling over with the thought, "If she has, nothing I can do about it now."

Dad of the Year!

She served revenge at 5 am saying "Dada!" and getting my hopes up that I might get first word. Then she turned, looked me dead in the eyes and said, "bababababababa"

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Today's update finds us in better spirits. But we've had wine, fish and chips, and two beach trips; how could it not?

Me and The Chef had a few chats about the malaise that's permeated our lives. We've not cleared it, but it's relegated to a background linger rather than a full on fug.

Our first beach trip confirmed lockdown is over. Packed with drunk students and intermingling family groups. Pavement distancing was uncomfortably optional.

Today we went to a less popular beach. It was significantly more pleasant. Room to breathe. And for Piglet to attack the sea with gusto.

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Father's Day was treat after treat. The Chef took Piglet while I had my lie in; card and coffee waiting for when I surfaced. And football is back — still mad that it beat the schools opening in this joke of a country — and I was allowed uninterrupted beers on the couch while watching it. Comforting salted pork meals bookended the day like a happy, unhealthy cuddle.

The Monday that followed was less fun. The house pervaded with frustration from work and each other. Lockdown fatigue had seeped in overnight.

Had a bit of a corona-cry this morning, which helped.

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We're looking forward to when parties aren't socially distanced. Until then, we had a corker of a first birthday.

The weather held. Garden set like Besźel and Ul Qoma, the food table as customs checkpoint and lots of retrieving Piglet from her border crossings.

We thought we'd knacked her mood by mistiming the morning nap, but the look of wonder when she came downstairs to see balloons.

World-weary at one, she paused, confused, when everyone sang happy birthday at the end. She worked out she was special at that point. And she is.

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By now The Chef had had prostaglandin and we were told to not leave the grounds, safe in the knowledge that — as delicately phrased by the consultant — we wouldn't see another sunrise.

I went for takeaway because The Chef wasn't eating hospital food. Birth would be ordeal enough. We ate with disposable chopsticks in the hospital canteen.

Back at our bay The Chef explained to the nurse that she's feeling discomfort, but probably not contractions.

Buzz bounced to the bed to explain that they were contractions and he'd be happy to break her water.

And the longest night got going.

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A year ago we got the call telling us the induction was booked for the next day and we headed out to say goodbye to restaurants. As befits someone who wasn't all of the pregnant, I had wine and venison, while The Chef lusted after our neighbour's chips.

Over the years, I've never understood why I say no to the question, "Should we get chips?" Audible regret ever follows.

Our in meal distraction was the middle-aged consultant The Chef recognised taking a young doctor out on what was clearly a date. Or, as was explained to me, another young doctor.

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A couple of evenings where work over-spilled put a dampener on 100 word updates. I've been cashing in on a bout of sustained motivation to catch up missed hours and get ahead before our long weekend.

I'm taking Friday and Monday off to celebrate Piglet's first turn around!

The weather is still looking dry enough to host the grandparents for socially distant barbecuing too. If it does rain, we might plead the Cummings excuse that it's essential for them to visit. The three houses are pretty effectively bubbled and the risk is low versus the heartbreak of banning them.

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I'm still stuttering down stairs like a puppet with a broken string. Collapsing into chairs rather than sitting down too. Hoping my leg muscles relax by day three, cueing another round. Maybe on the bike this time.

5K didn't used to knock me like this, even without regular exercise. But I've realised I'm thinking of when I was half my age.

Touring the garden flowers with Piglet yesterday evening, something caught her attention in the distance. As she stared away wistfully, the breeze picked up and she looked so regal. At least for a few seconds before starting to drool.

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Predictably, my quads reacted to yesterday's jog by tightening overnight to the same length as a toddler's. I groaned downstairs this morning with Piglet, my core taking over the job of operating my legs.

Still, they were allowed to tighten by a baby that slept through the night. The whole night!

In celebration, we got a socially distant driveway visit from lǎoyé and the cast iron skillet. Piglet was on tremendous form and they left happy when the rain got too heavy.

Now to lie in a hot, salty bath to convince my legs take it upon themselves to relax.

100 words 018

I cracked and joined the lockdown bandwagon. Not by cultivating and naming a sourdough starter. I went for a run.

I'm not usually a jogger, but with the suspension of 5-a-side and cricket, and the sedentary nature of working from home, I needed to do something. Anything. One Sworkit session a month ago isn't cutting it any more.

Techincally, it was a couch to 5K, in the sense that yesterday I was on the couch and today was an incredibly slow 5K. I even wore high-vis. I'll admit to some shame and self-loathing.

My Zombies, Run base still exists though.

100 words 017

After ten years (!) of studying, I'm still atrocious at Chinese. I was taking advantage of Piglet's new found mimicry to teach her lǎolao (maternal Grandmother) and spent 5 happy minutes teaching her làolao (to brand or sear with a skillet).

The same day I managed to spend too long over-thinking the phrase "Do we have class tonight?" and, by the time I got round to sending it over WeChat, I included three question words. This is not recognised as good grammar.

Still, with the chippy closed, I can ignore my monolinguality and rustle up fish and chips at least.


100 words 016

Some more about our lockdown eating experience.

Our principles have come in handy for staving off The Chef's boredom when making most of our meals. Riverford's recipe boxes have been flawlessly charming; hitting the keep it veggie and try something new points.

We've also started reintroducing takeaways. We lie to ourselves and say we're supporting local businesses — and we are — but it's primarily laziness.

It also took me 4 weeks to remember the existence of backpacks. This has made the walk back from the local shops significantly more pleasant.

100 words 015

The first of an occasional series; Things that entertain Piglet:

  • Rapidly blinking my eyes
  • Setting the hanging pans off swinging
  • Being the weight in a triceps dip
  • Playing peekaboo with her bib
  • 3 am
  • Saying "ow" immediately after anyone else does
  • Crushing a strawberry
  • Hair
  • Passing things from left to right to left to...
  • Beating up plants
  • Baby Jake
  • Dancing to the preset tunes on the toy piano
  • "Milk?"
  • Waving her arms like an inflatable tube man
  • The Fisher Price Circle of Neglect®
  • Feeling like she's controlling Dad by moving his arm
  • Cookbooks
  • Finger up the nose. Hers. Yours. Facetime's.

100 words 014

Yesterday was my first missed update.

Piglet's continued teeth plosion (seven as of yesterday) has led to an accretion of tiredness and house admin. Rather than write 100 words, we took the chance to eat, do some much-postponed online shopping, and nap before the nightshift started.

I've started reading Dune. It's taken years to get it back from loaning it to my sister and another 3 days to get to page 36. Not that it's hard going – just that having teeth cut slowly through gums is shockingly painful and I'm needed for overnight administering of drugs and cuddles instead.

100 words 013

Got a Bank Holiday double gift of a lie in and a bath today. Treble if I include the sticky ribs that The Chef rustled up while I bathed. Hashtag blessed.

Which set me thinking on lockdown's dissociative property, whereby thousands are dying in hospitals and homes over the UK, but for us it feels like just a run of quiet weeks. Assuming the family stay healthy throughout, I think we're likely to have positive memories of the experience; extended family time filled with baby giggles.

That doesn't sound right or fair ⁠–⁠ it sounds selfish. But it's true nevertheless.

100 words 012

Is there a better way to spend lockdown with a small baby, than a BBQ in the garden with a makeshift paddling pool?

Restrictions and queues make an impromptu BBQ difficult. And British weather makes it awkward to plan one.

I went to the butchers on Thursday, based on a 50/50 forecast and some tempting Cook House recipes. On the day, the BBC said, "Showery afternoon. Abandon hope." This depressed The Chef. Alternate meal plans were made. Everyone got sadder.

So we chanced it. Prosecco in the sunshine was our reward.


100 words 011

The swifts¹ returned yesterday. I watched them through the skylight, feeding in the pink May dusk. Half a dozen were swooping around each other, looping Southwards past the house. They carried on diving playfully out of sight and I stayed to enjoy the evening light. A few seconds pass and three daddy longlegs bounce Northwards past the window, muttering panicked expletives to themselves.

The swifts repeated their show Northwards and, again, out of sight, beat, and a single dady longlegs flies back the other way.

1: I'd thought they were swallows until now².

2: Should footnotes count towards the 100 words? Probably.

100 words 010

Working from home is the extreme version of working from work.

A good day is worth a week in the office. Distraction free, productive work. Actually, it would be fairer to say distraction recoverable. I can procrastinate, but without interruptions, it's easier to hurdle my activation barrier. I can find flow.

Whereas a bad day from home is useless. Missing external triggers, it's too easy to fritter time away. Mindless browsing or deciding to refactor my Outlook rules. I'm not saying these mightn't be useful in future but, with impending deadlines, this was probably not the best choice of week.

100 words 009


Rationally I know that the blue skies we've had for the last month are just weather and nothing to do with reduced traffic. But I can't fight the association. Hearing birdsong instead of rush hour cements the mistake.

We've been taking advantage of the mistakenly nice weather to patrol the neighbourhood for our daily exercise. The Chef was speaking with the neighbours after the Applause and discovered there's a nature reserve just across from the field we've spent the last month lapping! It's got tadpole ponds, a wild meadow and everything.

We'd make terrible explorers if the situation gets worse.

100 words 008

Repeating appointments mark the passing of time during (what we're contractually obliged to call) The Situation.

Getting the work laptop out. Bin Day. Teams coffee chat. Mandarin class. App training sessions. Veg box delivery. Weekly vendor call. The Applause. Meal planning. Butcher and grocer shop. Afternoon beer in the last meeting of the week. Putting the laptop back in its bag. Friday night treat tea. Saturday lie in. Supermarket run. "Is it too early for wine?" Sunday early solo parent. Grandparents videocall. "Are we doing the sleep schedule right?"

Around the markers, life carries on. Piglet keeps growing.

100 words 007

It was 7 weeks ago today, while my parents were visiting us, that they announced the office closure. Our car was still at the garage, so Dad gave me a lift in to fetch my good office chair, monitor and peripherals.

It was 7 weeks ago today that I set the stuff up in the attic office, gave everything a disinfecting wipe and settled in for the rest of that day's work.

It was 7 weeks ago today that my parents last saw Piglet in the flesh. It's been video calls only since then.

It was 7 weeks ago today.

100 words 006

Mark Forsyth is posher than I expected. Should I be surprised? It seems every English creative is posh now. ~~(Deleted rant about state support.) ~~

But, I now know I'm rambling at Piglet in iambic tetrameter:

Looking out your bedroom windows / We say goodnight to all that grows. / To all the birds, and all the bees / To all the bushes and the trees.

Snuggle in, so warm and dozy / In Dad's arms it's nice and cosy. / Please settle down, don't make a peep / Let's head off to the land of sleep.

Wordsworth it ain't, but it's soothing enough for her.

100 words 005

While queueing for the supermarket, I mulled over previous failed attempts at 100 words in 100 days. Namely, lack of accountibility and poor preparation.

I was writing the notes as if I had an audience, but keeping them in a private folder. The incongruity got to me and I lost motivation at the first bad day. Publishing is my accountibility improvement.

As for preparedness, while my enthusiasm is high, I'm sketching out some generic updates. When Buzzfeed listicles appear, you'll know it was a low inspiration day.

(I promise to write more about stuff and less about process in future.)

100 words 004

Eating every meal at home, we've had to adapt our meal planning. In an attack of geekery, I decided we needed principles:

  • One new recipe every week.
  • Minimum one third veggie.
  • Vaguely healthy.
  • Lunches are hard, so have leftovers.
  • Delight. Without this we just cheat on the board.

Shopping once a week, we can't supplement with unplanned ingredients. On a Thursday night, we sit with a drink and sketch meal options and whittle down to the week's menu. To keep flow when outside, the grocery list gets ordered by shop and aisle.

Once we're happy, it goes on the chicken:


100 words 003

Piglet's reaction to lockdown has been to grow all her teeth in a single sitting and, consequently, give up on sleep.

The obvious effect is that me and The Chef have never been more knackered. We're over-communicating everything to avoid pass agg-ing our way to mutual destruction. But...



Maximum forgiveness for each other is expected and given.

The secondary effect, is jealousy of other's lockdown lives. We'd love a Switch to binge Animal Crossing and Zelda. Instead we're pacing, shushing and attacking an infant with a Calpol syringe.

Then I speak to parents of toddlers and kids and cry vicariously.

100 words 002

It seems everyone in my rss feed is writing weeknotes these days.

So why have I decided against weeknotes and started with 100 words in 100 days? Because I'm bad at writing.

Bad stylistically. Bad at finishing. Bad at starting.

A constrained form that demands daily attention is my attempt to fix that. These notes are a selfish diary to improve my writing discipline and muscles (not the first time I've typed a sentence like that).

To stick with it, I'll need to stumble on a theme to write about. Lockdown doesn't provide enough novel life to write daily updates.

100 words 001

100 words 001